A recent story in the Anchorage Daily News headlined "Murkowski owes D.C. back taxes" jogged my memory of a flap that occurred a year ago regarding Senator Daschle's $1.9 million D.C. home and whether it was his "principal place of residence." Here's the relevant graf from the Anchorage Daily News:
The congressional newsletter Roll Call reported last year that a conservative group attacked Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat, for claiming the deduction on his $1.9 million home in the district. The group argued that his principal residence was supposed to be in South Dakota, not Washington, D.C.
Daschle responded that he wasn't breaking the law, because his wife, Linda, a prominent lobbyist, qualified for the exemption.
Washington tax officials agreed but said that in "98 percent" of the cases a member of Congress wouldn't qualify.
You can read the entire Roll Call story headlined "Daschle Hit On Tax Break; Wife Claims ‘Homestead’ Exemption" by clicking HERE. Excerpt:
Public records show that Daschle is in fact receiving the $30,000 tax deduction that reduces his property tax bill by a few hundred dollars annually as long as the property is the principal residence of the owner.
“I don’t profess to be a D.C. property tax expert, but it appears from what they have on the Web site that it would be improper because it’s supposed to be your main residence and these politicians profess to their constituents, ‘I represent you,’” Keating explained. “It would seem strange to take a property tax break aimed at D.C. residents.”
Talon News, a conservative Web-based publication that first reported the charges last week, suggested in its story that Daschle “may not even qualify for the tax credit, since one of the requirements is that the property must be the owner’s primary residence.”
But both Daschle aides and a spokesman for Williams dismissed the charges as baseless, partisan attacks and said the South Dakota Democrat is in complete compliance with the law because his wife, Linda, qualifies for the tax break.
“The Daschles are most definitely entitled to the homestead deduction, just as I am,” Williams’ spokesman Tony Bullock said, adding that the notion that the tax break is somehow a targeted program for low-income households is erroneous.
“It’s available to all homeowners in the District, regardless of the value of their property or their level of income,” Bullock continued. “The reason the Daschles’ are entitled to it has everything to do with Mrs. Daschle and nothing to do with Mr. Daschle. She pays District income taxes, so she qualifies.”
The question is not just about income taxes. Washington, DC's city government website flatly states that in order to qualify for the deduction, Washington DC must be the person's "principal residence." Apparently, Linda Daschle (a highly compensated corporate lobbyist) qualifies for the homestead deduction because Washington, DC is her principal residence. It stands to reason that a person can only have one principal place of residence, and in the case of Linda Daschle, it seems South Dakota isn't it.
By the way, although a newspaper in Alaska and a newspaper in Washington, DC (Roll Call) have reported this story, the Argus Leader has yet to say boo about it. Of course, the Argus Leader only reports stories from Roll Call that negatively impact John Thune, so go figure.